Raw Resources – Book Reviews

As promised, I am finally adding the titles of most of the books I investigated during my raw experiment. I am marking those that I like enough to purchase with an asterisk. Hopefully you’ll find this useful.

*The Raw Food Gourmet (Going Raw for Total Well-Being) by Gabrielle Chavez – I really like Gabrielle’s recipes. They are delicious and easy to follow and more creative and realistic than many of the others.

Raw (No Meat no Heat) by Lynelle Scott-Aitken – Beautiful pictures but the recipes just weren’t so unique. I made the creamed cauliflower soup and unfortunately I could hardly keep it down and ended up throwing out most of it – makes me upset to waste an entire cauliflower head and all the other good ingredients like olive oil. Just turned my stomach.

*Raw Food for Everyone (Essential Techniques and 300 Simple-to-Sophisticated Recipes) by Alissa Cohen – Many  many great recipes. I am buying this one for sure.

The Raw Milk Revolution (Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights) by David E. Gumpert – A spirited and political discussion over what’s happened with food rights in this country and access to unadulterated foods.

Raw Food Formula for Health by Paul Nison – More educational with few recipes at the end of the book. More of a “how-to” book.

Raw Food Cleanse by Penni Shelton – This is a good book for beginners or for those looking to take on a raw food diet as part of a cleanse.

Raw Food (Quick & Easy) by Mary Rydman – I like the simplicity of this book a lot. The recipes are very appetizing and not too laborious. I’m considering purchasing it.

The Raw Foods Resource Guide by Jeremy Safron – just like the title suggests, this book contains travel tips, where to find tips, restaurants, drying methods. No recipes.

Raw family (A true story of awakening) by Victoria, Igor Sergei and Valya Boutenko – This family has attained quite the reputation in the raw food movement. I believe it was originally published in 2000 and the husband and wife are currently living apart, which is sad. A quick read.

Raw Food, real world (100 Recipes to get the Glow) by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis – Written by two chefs/restauranteurs, I didn’t really get into the recipes. Although the book itself is pretty, just wasn’t my favorite.

Eating in the Raw by Carol Alt – We’ve had this book for a while – more narrative than recipes, but there are a few nice recipes in the back. Worth checking out at the library.

Raw Food Life Force Energy by Natalia Rose – Contains a 21-day menu/plan and over half of the book is narrative with basic recipes in the back.

*Ani’s Raw Food Essentials by Ani Phyo – I didn’t use this book a lot during my experiment – it got a bit lost in the shuffle, but what I have seen of it I really like it and think I will either renew it or buy it. The pictures are beautiful and I am intrigued to try the Brazil Nut-Banana Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup and Sliced Bananas.

Raw: The UNCook Book by Juliano Brotman – This was the first raw recipe book that I ever purchased. I love the papaya salad recipe and he has many great recipes, but it isn’t always easy to come by the ingredients he uses, unless you live in a tropical climate or Southern California.

I Am Grateful: Recipes and Lifestyle of Cafe Gratitude by Terces Engelhart and Orchid. I love this book and the accompanying dessert cookbook Sweet Gratitude. I definitely recommend picking up this book as well as visiting one of their restaurants if you are ever in the Bay Area or Southern California. Click here to visit their website or purchase their book.

I am sure I am forgetting a few and if so I will update this list accordingly. Eat well, Love Much!

Adding on – Yes, I did forget at least four books:

*The Raw Truth (Recipes and Resources fore the Living Foods Lifestyle) by Jeremy Safron – I like this book very much. Jeremy used to own/run a raw restaurant in Hawaii and also I believe in Los Angeles. The recipes are pretty great and user friendly.

The Raw 50 by Carol Alt with David Roth – Another Carol Alt Raw book with very easy to follow and tasty recipes.

The Raw Food Revolution Diet by Cherie Soria, Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina – Half informational/half recipe. I only made the fresh corn tortillas from this book and they turned out pretty darn well, so perhaps I need to dive in a little deeper.

Raw Food for Real People by Rod Rotondi – Another half informational, half recipes. It is a simple and easy to follow book – would be good for newcomers to the movement.


What I’ve Learned and To Be Continued

What a fun finale – I say that because fortunately/unfortunately ttonight we will be out and about and I am thinking of having some cooked veggies for the first time – I will have officially culminated my month of raw and I feel great. I didn’t cheat at all, in the sense that I never ate something I knew wasn’t raw or had a craving so I went for it – no I was good, very good. I honestly  haven’t stayed so committed to something in a very long time (other than my family, of course) so knowing that I have that is quite empowering.

Still I have today which will be full of leftover lasagna, my favorite smoothie with kale, almond milk, strawberries and fresh organic raspberries that I picked up today plus my raw rice protein.

And though I am ready to slowly merge back into my omnivore lifestyle, I know for sure a few things:

#1 I am done with red meat for sure. Not that I ate it very often – maybe once a year, maybe

#2 I will maintain a raw vegan diet at least half of my week

#3 I will continue to practice Meatless Mondays

#4 Going raw for a month isn’t that big of a deal and next time I will be really prepared in the sense of not overpreparing (remember my exorbitant grocery bills at the beginning)!

#5 A raw, vegan lifestyle is the most earth friendly diet going

I look forward to continuing to blog about my crazy fun dietary adventures. Since I do love baking I am on to master the scone – at least three ways: gluten free, vegan, and full on wheat and fat.

Almost There Plus Great Recipes

I’ve been on the go these last few days, putting many miles on the car, traveling high and low – from Copper Mountain to Buena Vista. I took this picture at Officer’s Gulch, between Frisco and Copper. The positive spin on that is that the colors are beautiful right now with the Aspens bright yellow and some of the brush turning deep orange and red. I had to think ahead packing plenty of car snacks and lunch for both days and I feel great about having negotiated that successfully. Car time can be a time of mindless snacking for me, especially when my blood sugar starts dropping. Today I was prepared with plums and what I’ll call a smoupie since it was sort of a mix between a soup and a smoothie. Yesterday I packed a great salad along with a peach.

I have to admit that I have been completely exhausted this week and I am ready for this experiment/adventure to come to a close this weekend. I am sure I will continue to eat more vegetarian and integrate raw much more than the occasion raw dinner out or salad for lunch. I enjoy the creativeness of the recipes. Yet as we head more into fall I have to admit I just adore a baked sweet potato, or dare I say it, sweet potato “fries.” I say fries, but what I really mean is sliced sweet potatoes drizzled with a little olive oil and baked until slightly crispy on the outside and tender insider. Don’t get me wrong, the dehydrated sweet potatoes aren’t bad, they just lack the meatiness and satiating quality of a baked sweet potato (at least for me).

Finally, why did it take me 4 weeks to figure out that tossing a bunch of chopped veggies with some olive oil and a dash or two of Himilayan salt and pepper and dehydrating for a few hours at 105 degrees is even better than steamed or stir fried veggies. WHY? WHY? This would’ve been my evening staple! Oh well, at least my last few nights will be veggie heaven. By the way, Lucy (the new cat) is doing great and the previous “issue” mentioned has taken care of itself – and in the right place, if you know what I mean.

Here are a few recipes from recent meals:

Jicama Salad

1 medium jicama, diced (about 1/2 inch dice

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1/2 red bell pepper, small dice

3 scallions, chopped

1/2 jalapeno pepper, small dice

juice from 1 lime

1 tablespoon cold pressed olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin

salt and pepper, to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon each)

Mix all the ingredients together and allow to marinate for at least an hour before serving. Sometimes I enjoyed this with a little chopped cilantro and diced avocado on top.

Stuffed Endive

These were super quick and easy to prepare. Wash the endive and remove the leaves one at a time, make sure they are nice and clean and dry. Rub the ends on a half of a lime to preserve their color.

2-4 (depending on how many you want to serve) heads Belgian Endive

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup walnuts (soaked)

1/4 cup pine nuts

15 fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

dash of pepper

Separate the endive leaves and lay them out on the tray you wish to serve them on. Meanwhile, add the red bell pepper through pepper to a food processor and pulse until you have a crumbly mixture. Place about a tablespoon of the mixture on each leaf.

Home Stretch

I am grateful that I’m on the home stretch of this journey. What I noticed over the weekend was that being totally raw impacts me socially. For example, in Denver, there aren’t a lot of restaurants that are raw friendly. Do a Yelp search and basically you’ll get Sushi restaurants. I had plans to go out with a friend for dinner Friday night and I thought I could just find a salad anywhere, but admittedly, that’s a little boring. So I thought, how about papaya salad from my favorite Thai place. I called ahead and they said I could get it without the dried shrimp and I thought great, I’m all set. I ordered it and decided to get a regular side house salad as well.  I asked what kind of dressing they used and they said peanut sauce so I asked if they had a vinaigrette. Some kind of lime dressing, so I asked for that on the side. Just smelling the dressing I knew it had fish sauce in it, so then I was stuck with a hunk of iceberg, a piece of raw cauliflower and broccoli (about the only pluses to that salad) and a few tomato wedges (two more pluses). My papaya salad came and I forgot about the peanuts on top – most likely roasted. It probably had the same dressing as the lime dressing I just smelled for the side salad. What to do – I ate it. This made me realize how limited the choices are when it comes to being raw and going for a raw vegan diet on top of that. Frankly, it just isn’t enjoyable for me right now, although I absolutely love it when a few of the more conscious restaurants offer raw dinner nights. I try to go to those as much as possible. Hopefully it is catching on; after all, most decent restaurants now have a gluten free menu or at least make a concerted effort to  note which items are gluten free or can be prepared gluten free.

The next night I was going to a birthday party, tapas style. I wanted to make a few things so I would be sure to be able to partake, but just for grins I thought I’d make cupcakes. WHAT A MISTAKE. First of all, I found a gorgeous, rich recipe on another blog. My daughter and I decided to make them sort of Reeces peanut butter themed, and we used Fluff plus peanut butter (Fluffernutter) for our filling. The first problem was that all the cupcakes sank in the middle (this is a major pet peeve of mine). Next, even though they were in parchment baking cups, they all stuck in the pans (that I had pregreased prior to baking). Next I made frosting with melted organic dark chocolate, more fluff, more butter and a little powdered sugar and as I was piping it on top of the cupcakes, the bag literally blew out. I had so much frosting, fluff, chocolate, butter all over my hands, me, the counters – and not once did I even lick my fingers! It was a disaster on every level (although I hear the kids at the party liked them). I vowed never again to make cupcakes. I normally love baking and am a pretty decent muffin maker, but I am through with cupcakes!!

What I made for myself and others for the tapas was stuffed endive (pictured above), jicama salad, and what we call poppers, which are roasted baby peppers stuffed with chevre (not raw). Why I was set on being an overachiever, I have no idea. I will post the recipes for the stuffed endive and jicama salad in another post. I will not share the link for the cupcakes because I think the person has a lovely blog and it may just be that altitude was working against me (I followed the recipe to a T).

Any suggestions for “breaking” my raw food experiment, or tapering as I like to call it, are welcome. Would black bean soup be too brutal? What about Himilayan food (veggies in a Jal Freghi curry sauce)?

I’m looking forward to receiving a massage this afternoon – it’s been quite a while for me. I’m still down about 7 pounds today. Would be great to have dropped 10, but I’m not in a rush. I know I’ll get there, especially with my new perspective on mindful eating.

On a completely different note, we adopted a cat yesterday from a mobile humane society van. She is a domestic long hair, but totally shaved on her body since I believe she was too matted when they got her. She hasn’t peed or pooped since we got her so now I”m concerned about that. Her name is Lucy. 

The Aha Moments

Heading into my final 8 days of the raw experiment and I’m still feeling good. I’ve learned so much, even when I thought I already knew so much about nutrition! My weight has pretty much plateaued over the last week. The interesting thing about that is that although I didn’t enter in to the experiment hoping to lose weight, the side effect felt good, which led me to start shooting for a weight loss target. I am about 4-5 pounds away from that target now. I believe the reason that the weight plateaued is due to eating denser foods – the nuts, seeds, bars, and most sabotaging to my weight has been the dried fruits. I was subbing dried fruit for my car snacks or on the go, in my purse snacks. Dried fruits, especially what I was eating – mango are super high glycemic foods and mango is also very high in calories. I don’t think that is what being on a raw diet is really about anyway – it should be more about all the fresh fruits and vegetables. One shouldn’t even need to venture out of the produce department in order to do this diet. So I’m back into the fresh foods, less interested in doing a lot more dehydrating – though I did make a nice cracker the other day that I will post shortly.

I’ve learned a lot about the way food is processed and that truly it is difficult to find most foods (fresh fruits and veggies aside) actually raw. Remember, there are no government agencies regulating the use of the term “raw” on food labels (at least, not yet). I was looking at a Raw Revolution bar at the store the other day, for example, and it says things like “raw, gluten free, vegan” etc. on the front of the label, but then on the back in very small print it said something like, “86% raw.” What does that mean? For the extremists out there, isn’t that like saying spaghetti bolognese is 86% vegetarian? It either is or it isn’t in my book – which is why I am not claiming to be “raw, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian” or any of those things. I am just a conscious omnivore and I try my best to make the best food choices I can.

Even when it comes to raw and vegetarian, I certainly understand the argument about making a smaller carbon footprint when we make these lifestyle choices, but here are a few examples where I would love feedback. How is buying a “young fresh coconut” from the Asian grocery store that was flown in from Thailand, that I have to drive 20 miles to get to… better than poached eggs from my neighbors (organic feed, free range) chickens with local spinach, toast made from bread made in Boulder, CO with organic butter from a farmer co-op? I’m not sure how to calculate that but I actually feel better about eating the latter (but not until October….). I have definitely spent more money on food during this experiment, and our grocery bills are already waaaaayyyyyy higher than the average family – again, that is likely due to the nuts and nut butters that may not have been so necessary after all, but I still love macadamia nuts (again, think about the carbon footprint of getting them to Colorado).

Thanks for listening, or reading. Let me know what your take is on all of this, I’m super interested. By the way, the picture is of a simple salad made with soaked wild rice, so, a wild rice salad. Today I’ll use the rest of the rice to make more of a rice-based salad rather than greens with a little rice in them.

Fully Loaded

It was a perfect weekend. Today we ran a 5K as a family – our youngest daughter’s first 5K run, which was fantastic. Stopped at Whole Foods on the way home and loaded up in a big way! I spent the next 5 hours in the kitchen and now my dehydrator is loaded to the max. I’ll work on posting recipes tomorrow, but here’s what is in there currently: thumbprint cookies (filled with goji berry “jam”), granola (made with sprouted quinoa and raw rice protein), dried plums, nectarines, and apples, bella burgers, sweets and beets chips – also had a pizza in there, but we ate that for dinner – here’s another picture: 

I feel well on my way to a balanced week. I’m really enjoying all of the books from the library – they have reinvigorated my energy and enthusiasm for this adventure. I will share my favorite titles with you this coming week. Until then, tell me, what adventure will you be embarking on?


Raw Library

Admittedly, the picture looks more like brains then pasta…. but the taste is quite enjoyable. Not much different than the pasta primavera recipe listed earlier, but I added marinated mushrooms and pine nuts and the marinara has fewer sundried tomatoes, no jalapeno, and more fresh basil.

I reserved a ton of books from the library and just picked them up – 22 in total. What a great way to go. Last night I read the Raw Family book – it’s a quick read and an interesting account of one family’s journey into raw. You can read more about them at www.rawfamily.com. I’m now diving into more recipe books, and it is interesting to me to see how they differ. For example, one book has many recipes where you boil water, then pour it on, for example, asparagus, or broccoli…..isn’t that cheating? The only thing I’ve been boiling water for is tea and feel somewhat guilty about that but I’m not willing to give it up – afterall, I’ve already sacrificed coffee. Others use lots of oats and other grains (sprouted). Some foresake all of this for just fruit and vegetables. Fun reading, I tell ya.

I’m off to start some new pizza crust for tomorrow night. Time to defrost the rest of the strawberry shortcake too!

Half Way Point

I have a confession – no I didn’t cheat, but yesterday, or really last night I was super cranky. I don’t know why or what happened, I just felt down in the dumps. I was ready to go to sleep at 7:30 pm, which is definitely unusual for me. Woke up feeling much better, and excited for the next half of my raw adventure. I just reserved 22 books from the library so that I can expand my raw repertoire. Don’t worry local peeps, I won’t keep the books out any longer than necessary and I will likely look at half of them in the library and not check them out.

In writing an article on nutritional yeast I learned that it isn’t truly raw, but it is used by a lot of raw folks and in “raw” recipes. Raw oats are also used, but I haven’t gone there yet since I know they are steamed. I did add ground up steel cut oats to one cookie recipe that I made in the dehydrator with ground walnuts, raw rice protein, cacao nibs, vanilla and a little agave and I’ve had a few of those and they are delicious!! But then I found out that the steel cut oats are probably not raw – here is a good article on it http://prettysmartrawfoodideas.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/are-the-oats-you-are-buying-raw/ (so I’m not going to eat those anymore – good news is the kids actually like them and they are super healthy!)

What I have enjoyed most so far about the raw food experiment is the consciousness I have gained around my eating habits. I am eating more mindfully. I am eating less than I normally eat. I have dropped about 6 pounds. My skin looks better than usual, although those darn wrinkles are still there. I have plenty of energy, aside from last night of course. And I am excited about the second half of the month. I’m moving on from the Cafe Gratitude recipes, which have been so wonderful.

Strawberry Shortcake

This cake is fabulous. I have been putting off publishing the recipe just because it took a lot of time and ingredients and it exhausted me to think about it, but here it is (with my alterations next to original recipe), once again, thanks to Cafe Gratitude (see, you really do need to buy the cookbook!):

I Am Rapture Strawberry Shortcake

(warning: this cake weighs about 20 pounds!)

For the cake:

2 cups finely chopped dates

3/4 cup raw unscented coconut butter (the brand I used is called Artisana organic raw coconut butter)

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups fresh strawberries

9 cups almond flour (I used leftover almond pulp plus finely ground almonds and finely ground hazelnuts)

For the Whipped Cream

2 cups cashews

2 1/2 cups fresh coconut milk

1/2 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon vanilla

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons lecithin poweder

1 cup raw unscented coconut butter (I used a little less)

Between the layers

3 cups finely chopped strawberries (I used a little less)

Start by making the whipped cream. Blend all ingredients except the lecithin and coconut butter until smooth. Add the lecithin and coconut butter and blend until smooth. Pour into a wide shallow pan and set in fridge for about an hour (note: I skipped the putting in the pan and fridge steps).

To make the cake, chop up the dates in the food processor until they reach a smooth paste (you may need to add a little bit of water here). Transfer the dates to a stand up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and add coconut butter, lemon juice, vanilla and salt and mix until smooth. Add the “flour” a little at a time until well incorporated. Prepare a 9 inch springform cake pan with removable sides – use a little coconut oil on the sides to prevent sticking (note: I also lined the bottom of the pan with parchment paper). Form the cake batter into 2 to 3 balls for the layers. Pat one layer into the pan and top with half of the chopped strawberries and pour 1/3 of the whipped cream on top. Set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes until firm before adding the next layer. Continue with the next one to two layers (I ended up with just 2 layers because I used a larger springform pan). Allow the final layer to set in the fridge another 30 minutes to an hour before removing the cake from the pan by sliding a thin knife around its edge. Top with remaining whipped cream and decorate with whole or sliced strawberries.